THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPHECY AND ITS CORRECT INTERPRETATION

Hermeneutics

THE IMPORTANCE OF PROPHECY

In the history of the church, the eschatological or prophetic portions of Scripture have suffered more from inadequate interpretation than any other major theological subject. The reason for this is that the church turned aside from a normal and grammatical literal interpretation of prophecy to one that is nonliteral and subject to the caprice of the interpreter. This false approach to interpreting prophecy is contradicted beyond question by the fact that so many hundreds of prophecies have already been literally fulfilled.

In the first two centuries of the Christian era the church was predominantly premillennial, interpreting Scripture to teach that Christ would fulfill the prophecy of His second coming to bring a thousand-year reign on earth before the eternal state will begin. This was considered normal in orthodox theology. The early interpretation of prophecy was not always cogent and sometimes fanciful, but for the most part, prophecy was treated the same way as other Scripture.

In the last ten years of the second century and in the third century, the heretical school of theology at Alexandria, Egypt, advanced the erroneous principle that the Bible should be interpreted in a nonliteral or allegorical sense. In applying this principle to the Scriptures, they subverted all the major doctrines of the faith, including prophecy. The early church rose up and emphatically denied the Alexandrian system and to a large extent restored the interpretation of Scripture to its literal, grammatical, historical sense. The problem was that in prophecy there were predictions that had not yet been fulfilled. This made it more difficult to prove that literal fulfillment was true of prophecy. The result was somewhat catastrophic for the idea of a literal interpretation of prophecy, and the church floundered in the area of interpretation of the future.

Augustine (AD 354–430) rescued the church from uncertainty as far as nonprophetic Scripture is concerned, but continued to treat prophecy in a nonliteral way with the purpose of eliminating a millennial kingdom on earth. Strangely, Augustine held to a literal second coming, a literal heaven and a literal hell, but not to a literal millennium. This arbitrary distinction has never been explained.

Because amillennialism, which denies a literal millennial kingdom on earth following the second coming, is essentially negative and hinders intelligent literal interpretation of prophecy, there was little progress in this area. The church continued to believe in heaven and hell and purgatory, but neglected or explained away long passages having to deal with Israel in prophecy and the kingdom on earth as frequently revealed in the Old Testament. Even in the Protestant Reformation, prophecy was not rescued from this hindrance in its interpretation.

Though remnants of the church still advanced the premillennial view, it was not until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that a movement to restore the literal truth of prophecy began to take hold. The twentieth century was especially significant in the progress of prophetic interpretation in that many details of prophecy were debated and clarified in a way that was not possible before. Though amillennialism continues to be the majority view of the church, among those who hold a high view of Scripture the premillennial interpretation has been given detailed exposition, serving to provide an intelligent view of the present and the future from the standpoint of biblical prophecy.

The importance of prophecy should be evident, even superficially, in examining the Christian faith, for about one-fourth of the Bible was written as prophecy. It is evident that God intended to draw aside the veil of the future and to give some indication of what His plans and purposes were for the human race and for the universe as a whole. The neglect and misinterpretation of Scriptures supporting the premillennial interpretation is now to some extent being corrected.

In the nature of Christian faith a solid hope for the future is essential. Christianity without a future would not be basic Christianity. In contrast to the eschatology of heathen religions, which often paint the future in a forbidding way, Christianity’s hope is bright and clear and offers a Christian the basic idea that the life to come is better than this present life. As Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” In the Christian faith the future is painted as one of bliss and happiness in the presence of the Lord without the ills that are common to this life.

The revelation of prophecy in Scripture serves as important evidence that the Scriptures are accurate in their interpretation of the future. Because approximately half of the prophecies of the Bible have already been fulfilled in a literal way, it gives a proper intellectual basis for assuming that prophecy yet to be fulfilled will likewise have a literal fulfillment. At the same time it justifies the conclusion that the Bible is inspired of the Holy Spirit and that prophecy, which goes far beyond any scheme of man, is instead a revelation by God of that which is certain to come to pass. The fact that prophecy has been literally fulfilled serves as a guide to interpret the prophecies that are yet ahead.

Scriptural prophecy, properly interpreted, also provides a guideline for establishing the value of human conduct and the things that pertain to this life. For a Christian, the ultimate question is whether God considers what he is doing of value or not, in contrast to the world’s system of values, which is largely materialistic.

Prophecy is also a support for the scriptural revelation of the righteousness of God and a support for the assertion that the Christian faith has an integral relationship to morality. Obviously, the present life does not demonstrate fully the righteousness of God as many wicked situations are not actively judged. Scripture that is prophetic in dealing with this indicates that every act will be brought into divine judgment according to the infinite standard of the holy God, and accordingly, prophecy provides a basis for morality based on the character of God Himself.

Prophecy also provides a guide to the meaning of history. Though philosophers will continue to debate a philosophy of history, the Bible indicates that history is the unfolding of God’s plan and purpose for revealing Himself and manifesting His love and grace and righteousness in a way that would be impossible without human history. In the Christian faith, history reaches its climax in God’s plan for the future in which the earth in its present situation will be destroyed, and a new earth will be created. A proper interpretation of prophecy serves to support and enhance all others areas of theology, and without a proper interpretation of prophecy all other areas to some extent become incomplete revelation.

In attempting to communicate the meaning of Scripture relative to the prophetic past and future, prophecy serves to bring light and understanding to many aspects of our present life as well as our future hope. In an effort to understand and interpret prophecy correctly as a justifiable theological exercise, it is necessary to establish a proper base for interpretation.

GUIDELINES FOR INTERPRETATION OF PROPHECY

The interpretation of prophecy has its own peculiar problems of interpretation when prophecy reveals some future event or is couched in figurative or apocalyptic form. In some instances it is difficult to determine the precise meaning of the text because there is no corroborative comparison with history. In general, however, prophecy is factual. Because so many prophecies have already been literally fulfilled, the nature of this fulfillment provides guidelines for the interpretation of prophecy which is yet unfulfilled. In addition to the general rules of interpreting the Bible, certain additional guidelines assist the interpretation of prophecy.

  1. As is true in the interpretation of all Scripture, it is most important to determine the meaning of significant words in the interpretation of prophecy. Often these words have a historical background that will help in understanding the reference.
  2. One of the important decisions necessary in the interpretation of prophecy is the determination of whether the prophecy concerns the present or the future, that is, whether it refers to a situation now past or present or is prophetic of future events. A biblical prophet, especially in the Old Testament, often delivered contemporary messages that dealt with current problems which were not necessarily futuristic in their revelation. This problem is compounded by the fact that many times prophecy was given in the past tense, where the writer of Scripture took a position of looking back on the prophecy as if it were already fulfilled. Normally, however, it is possible to determine quickly whether the prophecy deals with the past, present, or the future.
  3. Many prophecies of Scripture were fulfilled shortly after their revelation. At least half of the prophecies of the Bible have already been fulfilled literally. Such fulfillment confirms the fact that unfulfilled prophecy will also be literally fulfilled. Fulfilled prophecy is an important guide in interpreting unfulfilled prophecy and generally confirms the concept of literal interpretation of a prophecy.
  4. Prophecies may be conditional or unconditional. This becomes an important aspect of the conclusion that may be reached from the revelation of the prophecy. If a prophecy is conditional, it is possible it will never be fulfilled. If it is unconditional, then it is certain to be fulfilled, regardless of human response. This is an area of confusion in the interpretation of prophecy, as some have assumed that prophecy is conditional when there is no supporting data that indicates this.
  5. Prophecies sometimes have more than one fulfillment. This is referred to as the law of double reference. It is not unusual in Scripture for a prophecy to be partially fulfilled early and then later have a complete fulfillment. Accordingly, what seems to be a partial fulfillment of a prophecy should not be assumed to be the final answer as the future may record a more complete fulfillment.
  6. One of the most important questions in the interpretation of prophecy is whether a prophecy is literal or figurative. As discussed earlier, early in the history of the church, especially in the third century, a school of prophetic interpretation arose in Alexandria that attempted to interpret all the Bible in an allegorical or a nonliteral sense. The influence of this school was one of the major reasons why premillennialism in the early church faded and a form of amillennialism became dominant.

Though the Alexandrian school of theology is labeled by all theologians as heretical, the effect of nonliteral interpretation on prophecy was rendered acceptable by the theological writings of Augustine who applied allegorical interpretation only to prophecy and not to other forms of Scripture revelation. This influence continued through the Protestant Reformation to the present day.

Among conservative interpreters of the Bible, the issue of literal versus figurative or allegorical interpretation is a major issue because on it hangs the question as to whether the Bible teaches a future millennial kingdom following the second advent, or whether it does not. Because the church is divided on this issue, full attention should be given to the interpretation of prophecy as this unfolds in the Bible to see what the Scriptures themselves indicate concerning literal versus nonliteral interpretation.

Confusion also reigns in terminology that sometimes contrasts the literal to the spiritual or the literal to the typical. The nonliteral interpretation of the Bible is not necessarily more spiritual than the literal. The consideration of types in this connection is another confusing aspect. Types, however, depend on the historical fact which is then used as an illustration of a later truth, but it is not prophetic in the ordinary sense. Though it may be demonstrated that most prophecy should be interpreted literally, this does not rule out figurative revelation, allegories, apocalyptic Scriptures, or other forms of nonliteral prophecy. Though it is difficult to deal with these things in the abstract, when studying a particular Scripture, it is not too difficult to determine to what extent it is literal.

  1. Apocalyptic literature is in a place all by itself because all agree that this is not, strictly speaking, literal in its revelation. Outstanding examples, of course, are the books of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation. The fact that such revelation is not literal, however, does not deny it reveals specific facts. Here, skill in interpretation is most necessary, and careful comparison of Scripture with Scripture is essential in determining the actual meaning. This will be illustrated as prophecies of Scripture are interpreted.

As in reading all other types of literature, it may be presumed in studying prophecy that a statement predicting a future event is factual and literal unless there are good reasons for taking it in another sense. Here, the good judgment of the interpreter and avoidance of prejudice and preconceived concepts are most important to let the passage speak for itself.

(Source: John F. Walvoord – Every Prophecy of the Bible: Clear Explanations for Uncertain Times)

IMAGES IN A SCATTERED MIRROR (THE LATTER DAYS)

(WRITTEN BY A DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST – HENNIE VAN HEERDEN)

“For now we see in a mirror, darkly…”(1Co 13:12 ASV)

If there is one thing eminent in these last days, it is that we are living in the days of a scattered mirror, where the various dogmas became distorted images and views of the Word of God. It is therefore prophesied that: “the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.” (Isa 28:13 KJV)

The seed of confusion always follows truth, because since the beginning in the Garden of Eden the distortion of the Word of God came from the master of lies and distortion of the truth, Satan. As in the days of Moses in Egypt with the plagues, Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses and resist the truth, because they were men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. (2Ti 3:8)

It is clear what Jesus utilised to explain many things Himself to unveil what has been kept secret from the foundation of the world: “All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.” (Mat 13:34-35)

In aftermaths on Jesus’ teachings, many are still willingly blind and deaf and their vail yet not removed. Therefore it is written: “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Co 3:14-18)

If people do not even come to the basic truth of Jesus Christ and His teachings, who will be the candidates of what Paul warned about: “Even him (Antichrist), whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2Th 2:9-12)

The confusion of the scattered mirror in the prophecies, created by expositors of Eschatology over centuries, became a dangerous ground as many pieces are even more scattered regarding the end-times, and it requires a sound and careful observation. Many are right in what they say, but create confusion in what they don’t say.

Yes, there is a lot to say about the scattered view of the rapture (harpazō), the millennium, Israel, etcetera, but as we are standing close to events in preparation for Christ Jesus’ return, it is important to observe the proses to what Pauls said in 2 Thessalonians 2 about the falling away and the strong delusion God will send.

The problem is not God, but if a nation wants evil leaders, God will send them evil leaders. If they want ear tinkling preachers, God will send them ear tinkling preachers. The truthful and sincere believer would not compromise the Gospel, to please and accommodate the world and they will contribute to the falling away and the strong delusion which will follow.

Just as with Jannes and Jambres, things are playing out the same way and not many can see that within the church preachers will resist the truth, because they were men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. The most important of all deceptions are to imitate the last day’s events, by distorting the timing of these events.

If you have, for example A-millennium view, you most probably believe that the church is preparing the bride for the coming of Christ Jesus and not that He will come with His victorious bride. We will “meet the Lord in the air” for the Bhema judgement “and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1Th 4:17), because it is clear what John saw: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” (Rev 20:4)

The “Kingdom Now” view is held by most of the A-millennium viewers and again, it is not necessarily wrong in what they say, but what they don’t say or displace. In almost all these views, the view of the temple is historical and preteristic fulfilled in 70AD in order to proof their view of the A-millennium. If Jesus mentioned the temple (3rd temple) in Matt. 24:15 and it is historical and preteristic, how come that Paul distinctively refers to it as crucial for the upcoming and appearance of the Antichrist?

Observe that he directly link it to the return of Christ Jesus; the falling away and the temple: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together (episunagōgē) unto him,

That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except

[1] there come a falling away first, and [2] that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in [3] the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2Th 2:1-4)

Paul direct link creates no doubt what the circumstances will be before the return of Christ Jesus. The rebuilding of the 3rd temple will be one of the major events, as it is already in process, to be observed as the beginning of the 7 year reign by the Antichrist. Both Jesus and Paul take this as signs of His coming to be observed.

However, for us now is to observe the “falling away” and the deception that is part of the process, like Jannes and Jambres, con-artists are preparing the way for the Antichrist, like John the Baptist did for Jesus Christ. Surely the Kingdom Now believers, some Calvinists and others are right about some things, but are wrong in their timing as we see the temple and the two witnesses in Rev 11 as a precondition for these events.

[1] Important indicators

The temple

“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.” (Rev 11:1-2)

The two witnesses

“And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” (Rev 11:5-6)

Clearly it concurs with the prophecies: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:

The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Act 2:17-21/ Joel 2:28-32)

The two witnesses’ testimony will be for a thousand two hundred and threescore days (3½ years) “And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” (Rev 11:7)

What is the danger then if the timing is wrong and “Jannes and Jambres” of our time do some of the same “signs and wonders” as the “two witnesses” and what is prophesied: “And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke.” The same illusion applies as that of “Jannes and Jambres” by promoting “signs and wonders” which the Antichrist will apply. Let’s look at this deception:

[2] Con-artists – “Jannes and Jambres”

“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” (Rev 16:13-14)

“And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men,

And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” (Rev 13:13-15)

It also relates, for example, to the world’s approach regarding marriage and food, Paul wrote: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.” (1Ti 4:1-2)

[3] Replacement Theology

Although there is more to it, it is important to focus on Israel, as many see Israel outside the equation of the Bride and the Church. Were the gentiles church (wild olive tree) elected or called out of the gentile nations and crafted into the good olive tree? God didn’t change and His promises towards His elect (Israel) remain the same. In reference to Rom. 11, please observe:

“The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.” (Jer 11:16)

Did God ever call Himself the “husband” of the gentiles, but through them He would be called the God of the whole world? “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called. For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.

For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.” (Isa 54:5-8)

If we then take these two passages into account, what about Israel if we look at Rom. 11 in total and what the conclusion is:

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” (Rom 11:25-32)

The role of the temple and the two witnesses will play out with Israel at the end of the last days. As Israel is referred to as a green olive tree (Jer 11:16), the two olive trees referred to in Rev. 11, might as well refer to the church and the remnant of Israel who believes in Jesus Christ. It is also clear what the lampstands in Rev. 1 means and it could also be both Israel and the believing gentiles which will be part of the tribulation after their testimony.

Israel’s tribulation as referred to by Jesus Christ (Matt. 24) is without any doubt confirmed as part of the end of the last days events in bearing witness before the return of Christ Jesus: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (Dan 12:1-3)

Although we should see some of the mysteries yet to be unveiled as if images in a darkly mirror, the spirit of the age is to scatter the mirror even more and to distort true and sincere believer’s views. Clearly not all has been revealed yet, as it was said to John: “And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.” (Rev 10:4)

However, as things are unfolding, we are assured as in Daniel: “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Dan 12:4)

As we are sincere in the end-time events, all we can do is to take the scattered mirror pieces in the prophecies and put it together in in the right order to be forewarned and that we can discern in the timing of events. And most of all to honour the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, by preaching the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Maranatha, come Lord Christ Jesus.

(Hennie van Heerden has a wealth of knowledge of God’s Word. I am often amazed by his ability to present applicable Scriptural references regarding any issues I raise on social media. Knowing him is a blessing and a gift from God and I personally experience him as a great mentor in my spiritual growth.)

THE CALLING OF A WATCHMAN

The word “watchmen” is translated from the Hebrew word shamar or shomer. It appears 468 times in the Scripture and is translated “watchman” eight times. Other alternate translations are keep, guard, guardian, keeper, watch, observe, heed, or preserve.

“On Your Walls O Jerusalem I Have Appointed Watchmen; All Day And All Night they Will Never Keep Silent. You Who Remind the Lord Take No Rest For Yourselves.” (Isaiah 62:8).

It was Isaiah who first prophesied that God would raise up watchmen concerning the forthcoming events in the history of the Hebrews. As the events prophetically predicted by Isaiah unfold, we indeed see God calling the Prophet Ezekiel as the most prominent watchman in the scriptural usage of the word “watchman” (Ezekiel 3:17, 33:7), and it is Ezekiel that biblically best demonstrates what a watchman is and what he does.

Watchmen were critical for many reasons. In the Bible, watchmen would pray for repentance in the city (Ezekiel 18:30-32). They were called to wake up the city from its apostasy (Hosea 8:1) and turn from destruction (Amos 3:6). Praying watchmen provided protection from invasion (Jeremiah 4:5) and reported any sign of danger approaching the city (II Samuel 18:24-27).

THE BIBLICAL WATCHMAN, EZEKIEL

In Ezekiel 3:17-21, the underlying spiritual aspect of the watchman is emphasized. In Ezekiel 33: 2-9, the watchman warns of a physical threat.

Ezekiel 3:17-21

17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: 18 When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. 20 “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.” 17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.”

Ezekiel 33:2-9

2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.’ 7 “So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”

According to Finis Jennings Dake, a watchman is one who looks out or sees from a height, with the view to warning of impending danger or to give any information, good or bad. The Lord often called priests and prophets to be a watchman. The duties of the watchmen were threefold: to wait and watch for what God would command and give in warning, to watch over the people, and to warn the people for God. Ezekiel’s prophetic calling was a great weight. Because the responsibility of warning the wicked sinner and the fallen righteous is not to be taken lightly.

Notice that Ezekiel is primarily concerned with fulfilling his responsibility before God. His primary concern is not whether people take heed, panic or fall back into apathetic slumber, but that he has fulfilled his duty to warn them. Their response remains their own responsibility.

CHRISTIANS ARE TO BE WATCHMEN IN THE END TIMES

With the continual threat of division, darkness, and terrorism presently in the world, watchmen are critical to warn others of the coming of the seven years of tribulation. In fact, it is felt to be a mandate from the throne of God! Any Christian who has a heart for God and a heart for others, and who is willing to humble themselves before God with a pure heart is encouraged to pray about being a part of this call.

Jesus said the End Times would be even crueler and more violent than the time He walked the Earth. He said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” (Matthew 24:37) And what characterized the times of Noah? We read in Genesis 6, “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”[8] and “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the Earth was filled with violence.”[9]

The role of the watchman is described in scripture in both the Old- and New Testaments. In a key parable, Jesus shows how a Christian may be commissioned by Christ as a dedicated watchmen, while at the same time Christ emphasizes that every believer is to have the attitude of a watchman.

The context of Jesus’ parable in Mark 13 shows there are signs of perilous times related to the close of this age. As we see many of these signs all around us today, we understand the rapture of the Church may be close at hand, though we are shown in scripture not to be “date setters” trying to predict the exact day. Contemporary evangelical pastors, such as Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, are increasingly recognizing the importance of being informed of current events and see the need for taking a stand in society. Hibbs is a regular speaker at the Watchmen on the Wall conferences in Washington, D.C. where critical issues are raised, while at the same time there is a reassurance of our encouragement and hope in Christ and in His coming.

In Jesus’ parable of watchmen in Mark 13, the main event is the anticipated return of the “the Son of Man”, a term Jesus used to describe Himself: “For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.”[1] The King James Version of the Bible uses the word porter to describe this watchman. In some translations, this watchman is called a doorkeeper(NASB) or a gatekeeper(NLT). In one form or another, the porter serves three parties: the master of the house, the inhabitants of the house and the guests who come to visit the house.

In Jesus’ time, the Romans occupied Israel and the main threat to the Jews and the early Church was not an invading army. Information of critical news came by way of word-of-mouth and the door keepers, and those who sat at the gates of the city would be in the know. Today, threats to the community are ascertained instantly by way of the Internet and radio. Christians who consistently review news and events are serving as modern-day watchmen. Because Christians emphasize truth and integrity and are often willing to stand for truth courageously, many non-Christians are interested in the news Christians have to share.

Though the doorkeeper has the main responsibility to watch in the parable, Jesus emphasizes in the conclusion of the parable that all Christians are to have the attitude of watchmen in the End Times, especially as we await an important main event, Christ’s return to rapture the Church: “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.”

PRECONCEPTIONS ARE HARD TO OVERCOME

Noah warned the people of a great disastrous flood while people had never even seen rain before. Most people were apathetic. This condition is called the “normalcy bias” and was a reason why so many Jews refused to leave Germany before being killed. When you go against the grain to warn people, most people will be apathetic, some will appreciate it, and others may even become angry. We see all three of these reactions when we warn people. Some Christians believe the Church is supposed to “feed the sheep” and that’s it. But if all we do is feed the sheep and don’t warn them of danger, all we’re really doing is just fattening them up for the kill. We shouldn’t be dogmatic in assuming our role and responsibility before God is the same as another person. Christian attitudes towards End Times prophecy range from disdain to obsession, but there is a healthy medium to be found.

To be a watchman today requires overcoming some serious obstacles, such as the mind-numbing effects of mainstream media and the dumbed-down public education system. Psychologists have also labeled a certain kind of mental inertia and coined “the normalcy bias” that describes people who believe nothing really dangerous is ever going to happen, no matter what kind of facts you may present.

POSITIVE ENCOURAGEMENT IS IMPORTANT

Though we understand the End Times are a time of heightened trials, there are scriptures that emphasize we are to encourage one another with the blessed hope of the rapture of the Church and our ultimate unity with Christ.

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” (John 14:1-3)

PRESENTLY, THERE’S A GROWING MOVEMENT

In addition to the blogs and websites sprouting up with a watchmen theme, there are organizations, such as “Watchmen on the Wall” that focus on equipping pastors to be watchmen in their communities. The mission statement of Watchmen on the Wall states:

“Watch what is going on in the culture. Pray for the wisdom to engage biblically, courageously, and winsomely. Sound the Alarm from the pulpit. Take a bold stand with others to defend and advance faith, family, and freedom.”

Conclusion

As Christians, we are all called to be watchmen in attitude, if not in service in these End Times, according to the teachings of Jesus. We should be careful of criticizing believers who have been called by God to focus on research regarding critical information and warning others. There is no sense in living ignorantly. And the desire to stand for truth and to be “valiant for the truth” (Jeremiah 9:3b) still finds common ground among many people of diverse backgrounds.

(Main source: Templestream Blogspot)